Originally created 02/18/99

Additional business news



Dow Jones drops at end of trading

NEW YORK -- The Dow industrials dived into the close for the second day in a row Wednesday, matching big losses in the broader market that resulted from aggressive sales of technology shares. The average ended down 101.56 at 9,195.47.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a small margin on the New York Stock Exchange, and volume was 878.8 million shares.

Activity bumps stocks off list

New York Stock Exchange listings for companies whose names begin with the letters W, X, Y, or Z were not in The Augusta Chronicle's stock market listing Wednesday.

The newspaper runs an abbreviated listing from the Associated Press that is set up to be a specific size. It includes a mix of set stocks and those which the market considers most active for the day. An unusually high number of active stocks trading after the banking holiday Monday probably bumped the last few stocks off the listing, an Associated Press technician said.

The listing should return to normal for the rest of this week.

New-home building picks up

WASHINGTON -- Defying economists' predictions, builders in January started construction on new houses and apartments at the fastest seasonally adjusted pace in 12 years.

But a separate report on Wednesday showed manufacturing stayed stuck in the doldrums last month.

Housing starts jumped 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.80 million, the most since December 1986, the Commerce Department said.

"The only reason housing starts weren't even higher is builders are having trouble ... finding qualified labor and they're having to stretch out their construction schedules," said economist Michael Carliner of the National Association of Home Builders.

Last year, builders started 1.62 million units, an 11-year high, and economists had expected January to mark the start of a modest decline during 1999.

Heinz reducing staff, selling Weight Watchers classes

PITTSBURGH -- H.J. Heinz Co. will cut as many as 4,000 jobs during the next four years, sell its Weight Watchers diet classes and close some factories to boost profits.

The company plans to concentrate on food products, including Heinz ketchup and Star-Kist tuna, officials said Wednesday.

Heinz executives want to save $2.5 billion during the next four years to reinvest in Heinz brands and $100 million to market food in other countries.

BP Amoco announces steep drop in profits

LONDON -- BP Amoco announced a sharp drop in fourth-quarter profits and said it will cut 3,000 more jobs, citing oil prices that are at a 12-year low and a downturn in the refining and chemicals business.

Chief executive Sir John Browne said Wednesday the latest job cuts are on top of 7,000 cuts already announced, amounting to a 10 percent reduction of the work force created when British Petroleum bought Chicago-based Amoco Corp.

British Petroleum's $48 billion purchase of Amoco was completed at the end of 1998.